The 2010 “Unveiling” at the H.L. Chalfant Gallery in West Chester is a rare opportunity to purchase important antiques and paintings before they turn up elsewhere. With no previews, photographs, or catalogs prior to the sale, consignors are assured that items sold will not be over-exposed.
The event was so popular last year, it has been expanded to two days this winter, February 20 and 21—good news for those possessing buying power in this prolonged period of bad economic news. With valet parking and catering, shoppers can relax and take their time.
Last year’s sale took place on a frigid but bright February morning, but collectors weren’t about to let a little ice and snow deter them. In the parking lot a pack of 25 dealers and longtime collectors milled around awaiting “The Unveiling.”
At ten o”clock sharp the front door was flung open and the crowd rushed inside for the second annual fine art and antiques sale. Tom Helm made a beeline toward a rare and exceptional ball-and-claw-foot Philadelphia candlestand. Helm quickly began examining the piece to check for any possible restoration work as well as eyeing its wear-and-tear.
“The form was immediately appealing and the closer I looked the color was very impressive,” said Helm, a resident of Berwyn. “The design and the way the curves of the table were fitted show the contours of a Philadelphia piece. Sometimes, if a table gets pushed around on a rough surface, the feet can actually get worn down. I see a little, but it looks like this piece has been carried for all its life.”
More than 100 exclusive pieces were showcased for collectors and dealers at the 2009 Unveiling. Among the highlights from the sale were an exceptional mahogany Philadelphia Chippendale candlestand, a hunt scene painted by Charles Morris Young (1869-1964), a painted dower chest dated 1769, an important Queen Anne upside-down pedestal tea table, Arts and Crafts pottery from Philadelphia pottery-maker Galloway, a Queen Anne drop-leaf table, and paintings by George Cope and Joseph Leyendecker.
Many of the top items in last year’s sale reflected—and cast light on—charming aspects of 18th-century Philadelphia and Pennsylvania history. In a dismal economy last winter, buyers were cautious, but in seven hours 25 items sold that were valued at a total of more than $150,000.